The best East Village restaurants in NYC

New York’s best East Village restaurants range from Korean restaurants to Indian upstarts to Carolina barbecue
Oiji
Filip Wolak
By Jake Cohen, Christina Izzo and Time Out New York contributors |
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The East Village is one of the eclectic neighborhoods in New York. Need proof? Look at the best East Village restaurants, a melting pop of top-rate Korean restaurants, nouveau soul food restaurants and modern Mexican restaurants, not to mention the bulk of the Momofuku empire. From omakase sushi to comfort foods, here are the best restaurants to dine at in the East Village.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the East Village in NYC

Best East Village restaurants

1
Momofuku Ko
Photograph: Courtesy Momofuku Ko/Gabriele Stabile
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Momofuku Ko

icon-location-pin East Village

David Chang's 22-seat chef's counter is the most expensive restaurant of the Momofuku empire (and probably the best). The ever-evolving menu has included creative numbers like a matcha-tea–dusted mille-feuille and a mackerel sabazushi. You never know what you're going to get, but we assure you that you're going to love it.

2
Bloody Mary at Prune
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Prune

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Tiny, well-lit Prune is still as popular as it was the day it opened. James Beard-award winning chef Gabrielle Hamilton sends out creative dishes like Manila clams with hominy and roasted suckling pig with pickled tomatoes. This is the area’s go-to brunch spot, so beware: The wait for a table can stretch over an hour.

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3
Hearth
Photograph: Courtesy Hearth
Restaurants, American

Hearth

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Skirting the small-plate trend, the hearty fare at this haunt is big, rich and flavorful. There is a small hearth in the restaurant, but the real warmth comes from the staff, which takes pains in helping you pick the right dish, and is equally interested in finding out afterward what you thought of it.

4
Jewel Bako
Photograph: Courtesy Beth Levendis
Restaurants, Japanese

Jewel Bako

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The East Village’s first real destination sushi bar remains one of the top spots in the neighborhood for pristine raw fish—and, with tables lined up under a blonde wood cocoon, among the coziest. The best deal on a sushi splurge is still the chef’s choice omakase, an ultra-generous platter of whatever’s freshest that day.

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5
Oiji
Photocredit: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, Korean

Oiji

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Instantly craveable takes on Korean food is exactly what to expect at this neoteric East Village nook. The ultimate Netflix-binge, couch-potato snack of honey-buttered chips comes with the highly-recommended option to add vanilla ice cream. Unlike the typical Korean BBQ joints in the city, Oiji serves up refined versions of traditional fare. 

6
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Momofuku Noodle Bar
Restaurants, Japanese

Momofuku Noodle Bar

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Noodle Bar made its bones taking the economic savior of college students everywhere—ramen noodles—and making them hot, offering an array of slurpable noodle soups that join tender meat or mushroom-stuffed buns and soft serve. It's a great option for a late night snack if you end up looking for a nosh late at night.

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7
Au Za’atar
Photograph: Courtesy Au Za’atar
Restaurants, Lebanese

Au Za'atar

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Named after the Middle Eastern spice blend, this Arabian-French bistro showcases Lebanese family recipes in a 46-seat restaurant, outfitted with burgundy banquettes, exposed-brick walls and a five-stool bar. Highlighting the flavors of the Levant and North Africa, feast on mezze and tableside shawarma as you enjoy a glass of Lebanese wine. 

8
Veselka
Photograph: Courtesy Veselka
Restaurants, Contemporary European

Veselka

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A throwback to the artsy East Village of decades past, this 24-hour Ukrainian diner is famous for such authentic savory grub as borscht, kielbasa and pierogi. There is no bad time to come in for a bite, just be aware there will be crowds of college students and downtown dwellers looking to do the same.

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9
Ippudo
Photograph: Courtesy Jeffrey Gurwin
Restaurants, Japanese

Ippudo NY

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This sleek outpost of a Japanese ramen chain is packed mostly with Nippon natives who queue up for a taste of their famous noodle soups. Combinations of their flavorful broths with tender noodles and topping are nothing short of restoring bowls of comfort. Just come hungry: They don't let you take any leftovers home.

10
Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Photograph: Courtesy Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Restaurants, Italian

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria

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Il Buco’s casual offshoot—one part winecentric restaurant (Vineria), one part gourmet food pantry (Alimentari)—pulls off the combo more elegantly. Though the fancy provisions are separated from the dining room by a wall of Modena vinegar barrels, the open kitchen’s wood-burning aromas still consume every inch of the place.

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11
Momofuku Ssam Bar
Photograph: William Hereford
Restaurants, Pan-Asian

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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Waiters hustle to noisy rock music in this 50-seat space from David Chang as diners sit at the crowded counter. Chefs create concoctions priced to sample, including the wonderfully fatty pork-belly steamed bun with hoisin sauce and cucumbers, and the lunchtime ssäm (Korean for “wrap”), which might be the finest burrito in the city.

12
Edi & the Wolf
Photograph: Noah Devereaux
Restaurants, Austrian

Edi & the Wolf

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On a greenhouse-inspired patio with herbs, flowers, and vegetation hanging overhead from mismatched vintage planter—combined with the worn appearance of salvaged-barn-wood tables—conspire to create a homey atmosphere in which Chefs Eduard Frauneder (“Edi”) and Wolfgang Ban (“the Wolf”) revisit the flavors of their native Austria at this neighborhood tavern.

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13
Momofuku Milk Bar
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Restaurants, Bakeries

Momofuku Milk Bar

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Pastry whiz Christina Tosi conjures up homey sweets at this lauded bakery across the street from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. East village students, fawning foodies and in-the-know tourists line up for a sugar rush from the cultish goodies, including crack pie, cereal-milk soft serve and addictive cake balls.

14
Mighty Quinn's
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Restaurants, Barbecue

Mighty Quinn's

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Drawing on the Carolinas (mustard and vinegar) and Texas (dry rub), the chef melds traditions into a self-styled “Texalina” category. In a space staged with white-painted brick, Edison lightbulbs and stacks of splintered logs, ’cue-hounds can dig into superlative statehopping grub that upends purist ideals with gut-busting glory.

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15
Noreetuh
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, American

Noreetuh

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Picture a Hawaiian restaurant. Noreetuh is not that place. It’s sophisticated, no doubt—a smartly curated and generously priced wine list takes the place of any coconut-hulled cocktails—but the chef embraces the Hawaiian lowbrow as readily as he does the high with a menu of tropical-inspired fare.

16
Narcissa
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Narcissa

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John Fraser—chef-owner of Michelin-starred Dovetail—is an adopter of the vegetable high altar, and his carrots Wellington at Narcissa sends up a fittingly sublime hymn. For a dish that sounds like the token vegetarian option at a bad 1980s wedding, this Wellington is entirely novel. The sweet, brined carrots are tinged hauntingly bitter by a coffee-cocoa rub, their juicy flesh downright pampered by buttery puff pastry and silky sunchoke puree ($20). A card-carrying locavore chef couldn’t ask for a better home than the Standard East Village hotel, whose proprietor André Balazs owns an upstate farm that funnels produce directly to the kitchen.

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17
Jeepney
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Restaurants, Filipino

Jeepney

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The team at Jeepney was on a mission to bring the Filipino cooking they knew as kids out of New York’s ethnic-food ghetto. The menu offers an immersive ethnographic journey, featuring family-style eats that will push your threshold for pungent, fermented flavors. Whatever you choose, portions are huge and the price tag's a bargain.

18
Huertas
Photograph: Courtesy Huertas
Restaurants, Spanish

Huertas

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This Basque-inflected spot serves pitch-perfect pintxos and composed platos in a garlic-perfumed bar area and back dining room. House-made vermouth and a well-appointed selection of wines round out the lusty offerings. The menu provides the flexibility to stop in for a bite and a tipple, or set up camp and enjoy a full meal.

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19
Somtum Der
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Thai

Somtum Der

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If the refreshing flavors of Somtum Der in the East Village are any indication, Isan cuisine is the antidote to the too-sweet noodles Americans commonly mistake for Thai food. Take a seat in the bright, wood-paneled dining room and enjoy the heat of the chilies that permeate the spicy fare.

20
Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Restaurants, Taiwanese

Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings

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After an unsuccessful search for Chinese-Taiwanese fusion to rival their parents' cooking, sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng unleash secret family recipes at this white-walled dumpling house, named for their mother. The 16-seat shop runs on counter service alone, but dumpling lovers can sit at reclaimed-wood tables to eat.

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21
Root & Bone
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Root & Bone

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Reclaimed wood, repurposed scaffolding and recycled whiskey bottles become chandeliers and lamps in the 45-seat dining room, and animal-bone beer taps take center stage at the bar. At your table, enjoy a bounty of southern classics, each one slightly cheffed-up for the New York scene.

Heading west?

NIX interior-exterior
Photograph: Courtesy Paul Wagtouicz
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